Came to Admit I Was Powerless

A really neat guy I knew in college just posted a link on Facebook to a recent Roger Ebert essay, My Name is Roger, and I'm an Alcoholic.

I cannot begin to tell you how my life has been blessed by recovering alcoholics, and by people in assorted forms of recovery.

I can think of a whole handful of them who became family, starting when I was in middle school. They were funny, honest, accepting adults who had the wisdom not to take themselves too seriously. My husband says the people I love are the ones who "don't screw around," and truly those I love the most are not masters of tact. They are honest, because honesty is what keeps them healthy, sober, real. I know women who say that they can pick an alcoholic out of a crowd-- he'll be the one she's most attracted to. I think I can pick a recovering alcoholic out of a crowd-- and he'll be the one who becomes my friend.

A priest I really like once told a story about an AA meeting that took place in a small parish's fellowship hall. Congregants were in the habit of walking through the space while meetings were taking place, compromising the anonymity of the members. When a spokesperson for the meeting met with the rector, she was insistant: this is a matter of life and death. The priest who told the story wondered what would happen if we held what happened in the sanctuary as a matter of life and death as well. And when I think about it: aren't all the other things that we let take our focus from loving and following God just as dangerous, just as damaging to our selves and lives? Who are we kidding when we pretend otherwise?

I was part of an evening Mass once, and because it was a small group gathered to worship, Prayers of the People were both more informal and more personal than they usually are. Early in the sharing, one person told us that she was a recovering alcoholic. By the peculiar grace of God, which so often brings together those who need each other, it turned out that alcoholism had been a part of each of our lives. That was the most open, most caring service I've ever seen.

This was such a timely article for me, because while I'm not an alcoholic, I have such a hard time remembering that, in general, I am powerless, and that God can restore me to sanity IF I turn my life over to God.

It's such evangelical language, isn't it? Particularly in the last year or so, I've been missing that shared evangelical spirituality that talks about turning everything over to God, that spreads God out over our whole lives, and not just our philosophical moments. I've thought it was my evangelical roots, but I realize it's my 12 Step Higher Power roots, too.

I suppose mostly, I just want to say thank you to those recovering, who have been kind enough to include me in what you were learning and practicing. I have seen stronger witnesses, more faithful practice, and truer lovingkindness among this group than any other.


  1. Oh, yeah. One of the holiest and wisest people at my last parish was in recovery. And last week when I was feeling overwhelmed about my teaching I remembered her short version of the first three steps: "I can't. God can. I'm going to let (her, in my case)." Prayed it and miracles followed....

  2. wonderful read on this Saturday morning. We all have things to walk away from in order to become whole.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins